You’re so vein: when seeking a medical treatment feels like self-betrayal

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What my inner left thigh looks like. Aging ain’t for sissies, people.

When you’ve kept a specific part of your body hidden for years, it’s terrifying – to say the least – to make arrangements to expose it to a series of strangers, and have that area not only studied from close up, but touched, repeatedly and extensively.

Yet that’s what I did a few weeks ago. I called a medical office that specializes in varicose and spider vein treatment, made a consultation appointment, and said nothing more about it. To anyone. Because I felt ashamed and embarrassed.

Not just about my left leg – the area most plagued by the errant veins – but also because I’ve spent my life thinking that I’m someone who embraces the idea of natural aging. I always wanted to be Helen Mirren, not Cher.

Yet after several years of sheathing myself in leggings, pants, capris, and long flowy skirts, something I couldn’t look away from so easily arose, which is: now when I go running or do yoga, I feel some achiness, some pain in those varicose areas. Plus, I’d seen ads that suggested that health insurance companies usually covered varicose vein treatment, so I thought: “They wouldn’t do that if it was just a cosmetic procedure, right?”

With this in mind, a couple of weeks ago, I did a web search for local options, took a deep breath, called for an appointment. Continue reading

Getting, and feeling, lost

For a “softer” look, she should loosen the hair from her ponytail. Makes ALL the difference.

This past Sunday was kind of a rough one for me.

We just hung around at home, mostly, but I’d had a long, demanding week at work; taking care of Neve and Lily was draining enough that I never got the chance to shower or brush my hair or teeth; the short yoga pants I wore were also worn during the previous night as pajamas, and they were stained with Neve’s milk spit-up; and I had a headache, so although Joe managed to give me time for a nap, I still grumped around and snapped at everyone intermittently.

I was feeling sorry for myself, and empty, and subhuman. It seemed that over the course of just a few years, I’d become a woman whose entire life, outside of work, consisted of nothing but repeatedly pulling Neve down from the coffee table (where she perpetually longs to “surf”), negotiating meals with Lily (“How many bites ’til I’ve eaten a good dinner?”), and countless Sisyphean domestic details.

I stared longingly at the untouched Sunday New York Times on our kitchen table, remembering when I had the time and freedom to read it through, and go for a long run, and talk with my husband about the articles I’d read. I used to be interesting, I thought. I used to read have Sundays filled with rest and joy. And more generally, I used to travel and read entire books (that didn’t have talking bunnies or ducks) and see my girlfriends and take occasional, two hour bike rides.

So although Joe had planned to make a stir fry for dinner on Sunday night, he looked at me that afternoon and said, “You don’t look like you’re up for doing dishes tonight. Why don’t we just order something?”

I didn’t argue.

And when it came time to pick up the pizza and salad, I leaped at the chance to make even a cameo appearance in the real world. But then I realized, Oh, wait, I look like hell.

Stepping in front of the bathroom mirror, I loosened the hair from my ponytail a bit to get a little volume on top of my head, so as to not look quite as harsh and rigid.

And then I nearly cracked up, looking down at my spit-up-on black yoga shorts. “Yes,” my last remaining shred of vanity intoned, “that little hair-pull makes ALL the difference. Instant MILF.” Continue reading